Application for 107 homes near Therfield Heath unanimously refused

PUBLISHED: 17:08 18 January 2019

The planning committee meeting of North Herts District Council. Picture: David Hatton

The planning committee meeting of North Herts District Council. Picture: David Hatton

David H Hatton, 2019

The planning application for up to 107 houses near Therfield Heath has been unanimously refused by North Herts District Council.

Clive Hall addresses North Herts District Council. Picture: David Hatton Clive Hall addresses North Herts District Council. Picture: David Hatton

The application to the district council by land agent Gladman for a development to be built at Wicker Hall – on land south of Echo Hill and to the east of Briary Lane in Royston – was on the agenda at the district council’s planning control committee on Wednesday night.

At the meeting at NHDC’s Council Offices in Letchworth – which saw more than 60 residents attend – senior planning officer Melissa Tyler explained the reasons why officers were recommending planning permission be refused.

She said: “It’s prominent location and the topography of the site mean that the proposed development would likely result in significant localised adverse impacts on the character of the area and visual receptors.

“The site can be satisfactorily serviced via Briary Lane by upgrading and lighting the existing access. However, this would undoubtedly have an urbanising impact on the countryside locally and Therfield Heath.

Councillors voted unanimously against the proposal. Picture: David HattonCouncillors voted unanimously against the proposal. Picture: David Hatton

“Accessibility by means other than private transport would be frustrated by the slope and an absence of any evidence that a bus route could service the site long term.”

The decision notice also states there is “no acknowledgement” of the impact of Therfield Heath’s Site of Special Scientific Interest, and that the application had “not been accompanied by a valid legal undertaking, in the form of a Section 106 obligation, securing the provision of 40 per cent affordable housing and other necessary obligations.”

A spokesperson for resident group Royston Says No to Gladman said: “We wish to state that we are not against house building – far from it.

“There is a housing crisis in this country. However what is required in addressing that crisis is the achieving of sustainable development locations with adequate access routes, transport and other infrastructure services.

The Gladman proposed development site from the southern end looking north towards Echo Hill in Royston. Picture: David HattonThe Gladman proposed development site from the southern end looking north towards Echo Hill in Royston. Picture: David Hatton

“The damage this development would cause to the countryside is significant and there is the loss of common land too.

“When looking at planning balance, which the NHDC officer report covers, it is clear that the scheme is plainly a non-starter in principle. There is no viable access route to the proposed site, the route has now been tested and found to be unsuitable.”

The proposals received more than 250 objections from the public, as well as concerns from statutory bodies including Natural England and Hertfordshire Highways.

Resident Clive Hall, who is also against the proposals, spoke in favour of the “retention of open green space” and said that access to the development “crosses the common both reducing the size of Therfield Heath and fragmenting the green space”.

An NHDC spokeswoman said: “Planning permission has been refused for this proposal for the clear reasons set out in this decision notice.

“The council acted proactively through positive engagement with the applicant in an attempt to narrow down the reasons for refusal but fundamental objections could not be overcome.

“The council has therefore acted proactively in line with the requirements of the Framework (paragraph 38) and in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.”

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